I have hundreds, even thousands of pictures of my kids. Everything from special events to the ordinary and mundane. Every cute quirk or silly hairstyle is captured in a pixalated time capsule stored in binary code on a hard drive. However, it seems of late that I am more inclined to flip through my Facebook albums to recall certain dates and moments rather than my checking my internal memory bank. When I remember the special moment, I rely on the image imprinted into my mind as I stood behind the camera. Little Man’s smile on his second birthday is a still photo etched into memory that I can pull out in digital form anytime I want and not a real-life motion replay.
The thing is, we as parents are so engrossed in “capturing” the moment that we forget how important it is just to be in the moment. Over the summer, my family and I enjoyed a wonderful day at a relative’s cabin by the lake. Of course, I’m the one with the cell phone/camera and tend to be the one behind the pictures and not in them. As my husband took the kiddies out in the water for a little dip, I was more concerned about getting the shot, the “aww” moments with daddy, that I didn’t manage to really get in for a swim myself. My mind was on keeping the memory in a semi-permanant still image whilst keeping the phone out of reach of wet hands, or worse, the lake itself.
Have you ever heard someone look at a beautiful scene in nature and breathlessly announce that it is “just like a painting“? Has anyone considered how backward this is? Art and paintings are meant to capture the beauty of what is seen. It’s a representation of jealousy; what paint only desires to be and what an artist interprets in his own eye. Nature should not be limited to acrylic and oil. It is so much more than that. Colours and hues that change with the light, whispers in the wind and scents so fragrant and sweet. It needs to be experienced, felt, smelled, tasted, and seen. Visual imagery is just one part of memory storage. Memory also relies on the other 4 senses, such as olfactory, and at times it does not require any conscious attention at all.
Likewise are our memories. They need to be experienced and felt. Photographs are filling up our disk space and news feeds and we feel accomplished that memories have been stored. But how do our children see us when we are constantly asking for a “CHEESE” and demanding for them to “Stay still”? What do our children see when all we do is act like the momma paparazzi? Our faces partially hidden by a block of technology meant to enhance our lives (which begs the question, what is being enhanced?) I’m at the lake and as I watch my husband with my boys having that “aww” moment, I’m thinking about how to keep this alive and frozen at the same time. And I think, “It’s simple…”
Just put down the camera, enjoy the moment for what it is. Photographs have too long been taking the place of our memories and our experiences. Our brains are getting lazy, untrained synapses making recall all too hazy because of the “easiness” of flicking through an online album instead of the mental files. Memory retention requires Memory Rehearsal which helps train our brain. When our children grow up and we pass on, what is our legacy? Will they need to rely on outdated disks and hard drives to remember us and their childhood? Or will they remember the experience and the time we spent together?
Enjoy the experiences of today,